Through these dark and silent years, God has been using my life for a purpose I do not know. But one day I shall understand and then I shall be satisfied.
She sat quietly on a garden bench, engrossed in reading her book. She loved the feel of the soft flower petals and the gentle warmth of the sun on her face. She was always enamoured with the enigmatic things created by Mother Nature. As a child, she loved sitting in trees so that she could feel the branches sway in the breeze and touch the cold leaves. “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt by the heart.” was Helen Keller’s response to her deaf-blindness.
Her life wasn’t meant to be facile. Like the rest of the blind and deaf people, many expected her to live a life that was meaningless and devoid of any ambitions. But, she decided to challenge the world with her luminous intelligence, high ambition and dedication.
However, things weren’t all hunky-dory since the beginning. When Helen was a little girl, she was more animal than human. She did not let her mother comb her hair for weeks, wore filthy clothes, grabbed food from other people’s plates, threw it on the floor, and spat out whatever she didn’t like. Her parents thought it wasn’t realistic to expect someone who was blind and deaf to have good manners and behave like the others. Many even believed that she belonged in a hospital with insane people because of her temper tantrums.
But then something happened. A person walked into Helen’s life and brought the beacon of a bright future along with her. Her parents decided to hire Anne Sullivan as Helen’s teacher. Anne had herself gone blind when she was five and had spent most of her childhood with hundreds of drunk, crippled, and insane people. But after an eye surgery, she could see fairly well. As soon as she met Helen, she realized that the two most important lessons Helen needed to learn were discipline and obedience.
Helen was stubborn but so was Anne. But once Helen realized that Anne was here to help her, she started obeying Annie and had an unrelenting desire to learn. Anne once pumped well water into one of Helen’s hands and wrote the spelling of the word ‘water’ on the other one. This way, Helen started understanding the connection between a word and a concept. Soon she started writing and reading Braille and could even speak a few words.
When Helen was 19, she decided that she wanted to receive education in a traditional college alongside hearing and seeing students. She set her ambition high and wanted to study in Radcliffe College, the top university for women in the United States. She even passed the entrance test which was daunted as an intricate one even for those who could see and hear. Her teacher Anne sat with her in lectures and spelled each word the teacher said into Helen’s hand. Helen devoted more time and attention to her studies than the average students did. And finally in 1904, she was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree from Radcliffe College and became the first person in the world who was deafblind but graduated from college.
People were amazed and wanted to know how she could finish such a difficult journey successfully. Years later, when she was asked why she chose Radcliffe College, Helen said, “Because they didn’t want me at Radcliffe and being stubborn, I chose to override their objections.”
Helen then started writing articles on how the physically challenged are not useless and spent the rest of her life working on behalf of blind and deaf people from all over the world. Helen remained unmarried and had no children of her own, but she touched the lives of thousands of countless children and adults. Her written work, The Story of My Life is an invaluable piece of inspiration for sighted as well as blind people who find themselves in the midst of calamity.
Helen Keller dedicated her life towards making a change in the world and due to her efforts; people had started understanding that physically challenged people aren’t useless and need ambitions in their lives too. After all, what is life without dreams?
There are times when we often find ourselves stuck into the clutches of disappointment and words like “I’ve failed,” “This isn’t worth trying,” and “I think I should give up now” start echoing in our minds. But that’s exactly the time when we should remember people like Helen, who challenged the world with their unwavering faith, determination, and spirit and turned difficulties around.
Remember, if Helen could bring inspiration to thousands of stagnant lives, so can you!